limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

For a good place to get started with general info about who, what, why, etc., check out the "Stickies" on the left side of the page. Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to ask questions and get involved!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finished parts from the plating company

I'm a little behind on the blog and I've been using the last few days of being sick to try and catch up. It's really hard to divide my time between the shop and sitting at home typing :) In any case I sent out some parts to get plated a few days ago and now I have them back!

Ready to go and hoping for no damage on the other end of the process
Aluminum is incredibly soft and nicks, scratches, and dings if you look at it wrong. Drop a part on the floor and it's probably headed for the recycling bin. It's also incredibly difficult to get all these parts through all the various machining and finishing steps without damaging them. THEN I have to send them out to get plated and the same rules apply for the folks handing the parts at Amex Plating. Fortunately they always do an amazing job. You'll have to read on after the jump to see the results :)

I've chosen to use EN (Electroless Nickel) plating for a few reasons.
  1. It's very durable, they use nickel plate on scuba gear, hand guns, and machine tools to name a few applications. EN is also non corrosive so it won't tarnish or oxidize. 
  2. It looks friggin' awesome. The color is slightly "warm" and I really like that. In general, I'm a fan of "natural" looking finishes. 
  3. It's electrically conductive and this means I don't have to do a bunch of secondary operations. If I anodize the lights I have to remove the anodizing in certain areas. Anodizing is electrically insulating and the head/body/tail all need to maintain electrical contact. This also leaves bare aluminum which is very prone to oxidation (see reason 1). 
  4. Everyone anodizes, very few EN plate. I want to be different...just like everyone else. 

So I have 19 lights ready to build. I don't have 20 because I ruined one: a couple of grains of blasting media were caught on the threads and I had a head get permanently threaded onto a body. Oops. My next problem is the supplier of the LED drivers I'm using is out of stock for at least the next two weeks. I have 19 lights and only 16 drivers. Still having fun?

More on that later...for now...a couple more photos. First up are three shots to give you an idea of the appearance: EN versus raw aluminum.

EN left, raw aluminum right
EN left, raw aluminum right
EN bottom, raw aluminum top
These are my official test lights! 
Another shot of the testers

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